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SB Nation Reacts: Bucks Confidence and the Impact of Fans

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How have increased number of fans altered the experience?

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NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in Milwaukee Bucks fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.

According to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, 67 percent of Bucks fans are confident the team is headed in the right direction. That’s down from 75 percent last week and 80 percent two weeks ago.

This is a little interesting. As this is being written, the Bucks are currently up 2-0 against the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Obviously, the main discussion point is the job Mike Budenholzer is doing as the head coach. Given the fact that his team is currently up 2-0, it’s hard to argue against the results. The Bucks have been showing a willingness to test things defensively recently under Bud and if the wins continue for the Bucks, things will likely remain calm for Bud’s job status. However, it’s the NBA playoffs, and Milwaukee hasn’t played a game on Miami’s home floor yet. They say a series doesn’t start until a home team loses a game. We’ll see if the Bucks can make that happen.

With the first-round of the playoffs underway, the most noticeable difference in the games has been the addition of nearly full crowds. More than 50 percent of fans around the country said the inclusion of fans has significantly improved the viewing experience, only 16 percent said it hasn’t improved the experience at all.

I definitely agree that it has improved the experience. I started covering Bucks games in-person again in late February — nearly exactly a year from when our world was turned upside down and the NBA suspended its season. The amount of fans have exponentially grown, starting off at just over 2,000 to its current point now, which is the Bucks announcing full capacity at the next home game. It’s so nice to have a real playoff atmosphere back. It was absolutely rocking at Fiserv Forum for Game 2. Is there anything than the anticipation from a crowd when a three is shot, then the craziness that ensues when it’s nothing but net? I don’t think so. If my ears hurt from just 50% capacity, I can’t imagine what it’s going to sound like with a full house.

Having fans in attendance provides at least the semblance of a home-court advantage. Just over half of Bucks fans believe Milwaukee would have finished the regular season with a better record had fans been in attendance all season long.

Personally, I think fans would have improved it slightly. That means that there would have been fans in the arena for big games such as the one against the Lakers, which was held right before fans were welcomed back for the first time. We all know how those big game atmospheres can get. However, at the same time, Giannis Antetokounmpo missed a handful of games due to injury, so even a full crowd may not have had much of a difference. Like I said, I think it would have improved it slightly — by maybe five games at most. The good thing is that now fans won’t have to worry about that what if, as it will be full steam ahead with full capacity at Bucks home games for the remainder of the playoffs.

With the rest of fans around the country watching at home, there is no shortage of great opening round series to enjoy. 30 percent of fans around the country believe the Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers series is the best of the group.

The New York Knicks series against the Atlanta Hawks is the next most popular choice, with 21 percent of the vote. Eight percent of fans picked the Bucks series against the Miami Heat.

This makes sense to me for a few reasons. Let’s start with Phoenix vs. Los Angeles. You have LeBron and the Lakers on one side. I mean, we all know how special of a talent LeBron is. Just a playoff staple. Then, on the other side of the coin, you have the Suns — an exciting team that’s full of youth and that blends in the experience of Chris Paul. That certainly creates an exhilarating series, and the first two games have shown that. With the Knicks, you knew that was going to be a highly anticipated series just due to the fact that it’s New York. Similar to the Suns-Lakers series, this series has shown flashes of the two youthful teams. Finally, with the Clippers and Mavericks, you have two superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Luka Doncic going against one another.

Similarly, 26 percent of fans believe the Suns best display the characteristics of a successful team. Only 11 percent picked the Bucks.

The reason I think the Bucks may be so low on this survey is due to playoff fatigue. We’re already at the point where the Bucks have made appearances in every postseason since the 2014-15 season, and casual NBA fans may be growing a little used to seeing them in the playoffs. On the flip side, the Suns are the new kids on the block, making their first playoff appearance since the 2009-10 season. Any time a new team comes into the party, their success is always highlighted and I think that’s the case with the Suns.

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